ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, has signed two separate bi-lateral statements of intent with the SKA South Africa Project and Australia's CSIRO. The statements were signed last Tuesday, during the International SKA Forum 2010. The Forum, jointly organised by ASTRON and its parent institute NWO (Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research) was held at the TT-hall in Assen, in the north of the Netherlands.

Published by the editorial team, 21 June 2010

Prof. Michael Garrett, General Director of ASTRON: "The agreement recognises that our innovative APERTIF system at the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope (WSRT) is indeed a transformational science instrument. We are happy we have found a way to make our technology contribute to the Australian SKA pathfinder, ASKAP. We also intend to continue our scientific collaboration with our colleagues in South Africa with the exchange of young students being high on the agenda".

For more information, please contact:

Femke Boekhorst, PR & Communication ASTRON. Tel.: +31 521 595 204. E-mail: Boekhorst@astron.nl.

About the SKA

The Square Kilometre Array will be the leading international radio telescope for the 21st Century. The total collecting area will be approximately one square kilometre giving 50 times the sensitivity, and 10,000 times the survey speed, of the best current-day telescopes.

More than 70 institutes in 20 different countries, together with industry partners, are participating in the scientific and technical design of the SKA telescope. The construction of the telescope is expected to begin in 2013 with a target cost of €1,5 billion.

The SKA will address fundamental unanswered questions about our Universe including how the first stars and galaxies formed after the Big Bang, how galaxies have evolved since then, the role of magnetism in the cosmos, the nature of gravity, and the search for life beyond Earth.

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